Advice for parents about the career options for their children

Researching universities

Once some of the domestic issues have come to light (such as the choice to live at home or move away to study), it is then important to find out as much about potential universities as possible before making choices.

 

OpenWhilst they are still within the lower sixth or Year 12, or in the first year of a college course you and your son or daughter should have the opportunity to attend a higher education event which will have representatives of a variety of institutions in attendance in order to obtain information on the universities and higher education colleges they are interested in.

During the exhibition they should be able to speak to the representatives of the institutions and get answers on everything from entry requirements to accommodation costs. In addition to academic institutions there may be exhibitors representing alternatives to higher education such as providers of apprenticeship training and gap year opportunities as well as issues such as student finance.

Encouraging your son or daughter to attend university open days is also a great way for you both to find out more about what they have to offer, their facilities and outside activities. You will also be able to satisfy yourself of the safety and security aspect by seeing for yourself the location and general ambience of the area.

 

Either way, obtaining a university or college prospectus will provide essential information about the institution itself, the courses on offer and its facilities.

Prospectuses can be obtained directly from the institution itself or via your son or daughter's careers adviser or school or college careers library which should contain at least a reference copy.

A really useful way to research a particular university is to use national web portals such as Unistats and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education websites; http://unistats.direct.gov.uk http://www.qaa.ac.uk

The Unistats site includes the results from the annual National Student Survey, www.thestudentsurvey.com  where students are asked to provide information about what they think of the institution they are studying at.

 

If your son or daughter is considering postgraduate study at this stage, it may also be worth looking at the published university league tables (see section on the League Tables) which include information on the quality of teaching and research in key subjects. However if you do choose to peruse the league tables, it is worth remembering that some of the information that goes into these league tables may be up to a year out of date and also that many universities with a seemingly low position in the rankings often have a good reputation for the programme that your son or daughter may wish to study.

League Tables

League Tables

 

Using these various sources of information, look for what students thought of their degree programme and importantly what they progressed onto after graduation. Remember that the most ideal degree programme for one student may not necessarily be the best for another. The sources of information can be useful for you to use to compare statistical information and facts and figures on areas such as:

Icon Rates course completion rates (i.e., drop out numbers, links to satisfaction levels etc.)
Icon Achieve student achievements
Icon Destination graduate employment (student 'destinations' - outcome figures)

 

The type of course and location of the university are obviously the most crucial aspects to consider when choosing a place to study, however it is also worth your son or daughter considering additional issues such as:

Icon Uni How big is the university: is it made up of one centralised campus, or are the buildings scattered across a wide area?
Icon Leisure Social and sports facilities: where are the student pubs and clubs and leisure facilities such as music venues, cinemas and sports centres?
Icon Home Accommodation: what sort of halls of residence are there, and what is the cost of university and private accommodation?

 

In addition it is also worth looking into the levels of support that the university offers to students during their learning programme, namely a proactive careers advisory service with hopefully a work placement officer, personal tuition and counselling, student's union and services and facilities for disabled students if necessary.

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